Concluding the Doha Round talks by 2010 will be the most effective way to resist protectionism and strengthen the multilateral trading system, trade ministers from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies said on Wednesday.
Trade ministers attending the first ministerial meeting of APEC2009 said in a statement that sustaining trade and investment flows remains critical to the future prosperity.
"The main threats to a revival of trade flows include rising protectionist pressures, and continued delay in concluding the Doha Round," the statement said, adding that giving a new push to conclude the Doha Round by 2010 will be "the most effective way" to resist protectionism.
APEC trade ministers said that the Doha Round talks should be built on the good progress already made in the negotiations in the past eight years.
The Doha Development Round talks, which was launched in 2001 with the aim at helping poor countries through trade, should wrapped up years ago, but were delayed for several times because of rifts between developed and developing countries.
Singapore's Minister of Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang on Tuesday quoted Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organization, as saying that 80 percent of the talks has been done, but the remaining 20 percent is more difficult.
APEC trade ministers that they will accelerate efforts to conclude modalities in Agriculture and NAMA, and utilize all possible avenues of engagement to encourage greater transparency and understanding of what is on the table to fill the remaining gaps in the negotiations as soon as possible.
They also said that they will direct senior officials to meet in Geneva to ensure direct engagement within the WTO so that progress can be made prior to the Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009.
The two-day Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting kicked off here on Tuesday. Trade ministers from 21 APEC economies are here to discuss policy responses to the economic crisis as well as preparing for recovery in the longer-term.